Tuesday is a big day for Ahsoka Tano fans, as E.K. Johnston’s Ahsoka hits the shelves. The book fills in at least some of the gaps between her last appearance in The Clone Wars and her first in Rebels. The audiobook version, also out Tuesday, is read by Ashley Eckstein. You can check out a sample on Soundcloud.
Also coming up in October we have Pablo Hidalgo’s Star Wars Propaganda on the 25th. Our next novel is Catalyst by James Luceno, which will give us some background on Rogue One, out on November 15. Check out our book release schedule for the rest of 2016.
This is also the week that the new covers for the Thrawn trilogy paperbacks are officially launching. Note that the new editions use the same ISBN as the old, so some stores may have older stock to sell out before these become available. If you want them for the new art, I recommend buying them in-person.
Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader ongoing may be ending with #25, but he’s on board for the replacement – which has been solicited as simply Star Wars: Classified. He’ll be joined by artist Kev Walker, who’s not quite new to Star Wars – he did a cover for Dark Horse’s Republic #55 back in 2003. The new comic, which will also be an ongoing title, will be launched with a number of variant covers in December.
→ The Force Awakens novelization in paperback will contain two short stories: Alan Dean Foster’s ‘Bait’ (from Star Wars Insider #162) and Delilah Dawson’s ‘The Perfect Weapon,’ which was released as an eBook.
LEGOLAND California announced a major addition to their LEGO Star Wars Miniland to open in March 2017. While the Carlsbad theme park currently has Star Wars miniland dioramas representing key scenes from the first six films, as well as a jumbo-sized Death Star model, they are planning a whole set of scenes to build The Force Awakens into their fantastic Miniland style.
Joined at the press conference by a lifesize LEGO R2-D2, LEGOLAND California Resort’s General Manager Peter Ronchetti detailed the plans for The Force Awakens Miniland Model Display at the theme park:
“Right now, at our secret Model Shop in Carlsbad, Master Model Designer Nik Ehm of our Merlin’s Magic Making team is working on creating six scenes that represent the first 30 minutes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said Ronchetti. “There are two primary focal points – the more traditional character-driven scenes on the planet of Jakku, and an enormous LEGO model of the Star Destroyer Finalizer. At 16-feet long, it will be the longest LEGO Star Wars Miniland model ever created!”
According to the press release, the scenes, which will be in the center of LEGO Star Wars Miniland and feature lights, sound effects and animation that bring the scenes to life, will include:
Kylo Ren’s capture of Poe on Jakku
Rey’s rescue of BB-8
Poe and Finn’s escape from the Finalizer
The wreck of Finn and Poe’s TIE Fighter
Rey, Finn and BB-8’s escape from Niima Outpost
The escape from the Starship Graveyard
The park announced that this new model display will open to the public for their annual LEGO Star Wars Days on March 4-5, 2017, perfect for spring break.
“At LEGOLAND California Resort, we pride ourselves in innovation, creativity and memorable experiences for our millions of guests we see each year and 2017 continues that tradition,” said Ronchetti. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens set records as the top-grossing film nationally of all time and we’re excited to bring it to life here in our popular LEGO Star Wars Miniland!” said Ronchetti.
Other upcoming additions to the LEGO-themed resort in 2017 include an expansion for the LEGOLAND Water Park, called Surfer’s Bay, and the addition of NINJAGO themed rooms and suites to the main hotel, replacing the castle themed rooms, with the plan to open a new separate LEGO Castle themed hotel in 2018, in front of Sea Life Aquarium.
The new The Force Awakens model will be replacing the model currently in the center of LEGO Star Wars Miniland: a large diorama depicting the Battle of Christophsis from 2008’s The Clone Wars animated film. This diorama, which features Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi and Captain Rex leading clone forces against an army of battle droids and larger weaponry amid the crystalline buildings of Christophsis, is one of the original seven dioramas from when LEGO Star Wars Miniland opened in 2011. I hate to see older exhibits taken down, but a sixteen-foot Star Destroyer towering over the guests will certainly bring a wow factor as a centerpiece to the whole Miniland experience that just isn’t there presently. I’d love to see a built-out Niima Outpost, complete with Unkar Plutt’s shop, and the spaceport, and will be interesting to see how they incorporate a different scale for the spaceship chase dioramas.
While I am certainly looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens brought to LEGO Star Wars miniland, I still feel that there is so much more they could do – after all, there’s Rebels and the LEGO The Freemaker Adventures also to build on, and by the time this opens in 2017, Rogue One will have been released. But I also know that there’s not a lot of real estate in the LEGO Star Wars Miniland area without doing some major surface regrading as the area is terraced on the side of a hill. Hopefully they are planning ahead to where will they put the eventual Episode VIII & IX displays!
Check out the official announcement video for a sneak peek at some of the early renderings of how the new models will appear in Miniland (For just the Star Wars portion of the announcement, watch from 0:19 to 0:49):
TNT and TBS will be the new basic cable home of the Star Wars franchise, per The Wrap. TNT will begin airing the first two trilogies later this month, beginning with The Phantom Menace on Tuesday, September 20. They’ll debut one film a night and finish up with a six-movie marathon on Sunday, September 25.
The multi-year licensing agreement also includes The Force Awakens (currently running on the premium channel Starz) and Rogue One. They’ll join the lineup in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Variety’s “industry sources” estimate the deal is worth “at least $250 million” for at least 10 films, with the rights for The Force Awakens and the upcoming movies in the range of $35-$40 million each. The deal runs through “at least” 2022. USA Network – which held the Star Wars basic cable rights back in the ’90s – and FX Networks were also in contention for the deal.
Adam Driver is the latest Star Wars star to show up at the Toronto International Film Festival. (We previously heard from Lupita Nyong’o.) He’s actually there for Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, but of course no one can resist asking him about Star Wars.
In the Toronto Sun, Driver praises Star Wars directors J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, citing their “very specific vision.” He went into further detail (on director technique, anyway) with Collider, and compared the VIII script to Empire… Sort of:
It’s great. It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go “oooh, it’s dark” but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.
He also talks about originally being overwhelmed with the scope of Star Wars, and how Abrams helped break that down. A full interview will be coming to Collider soon, and Patterson will be in theaters at the end of the year.
Coming out on Tuesday is Finn’s Story by Jesse J. Holland (a companion volume to Rey’s Story) that tells the tale of The Force Awakens from Finn’s perspective for younger readers. Wednesday brings The Force Awakens #4 from Marvel.
We have a few other things coming up later this month, so check out our book schedule.
Also available are the extra features from the two Blu-ray releases – several behind-the-scenes documentaries and cut scenes.
To celebrate the release, Starz contacted me (along with several other fans, I believe) and sent me a Google Chromecast and access to their app. I do have Starz through my cable package, but I’ve never ventured much beyond that. (Yes, I am fitfully behind the times in my TV-watching technology – I didn’t even have a functioning flatscreen TV until late last year.) Setup on the Chromecast was simple – it requires a power outlet, a HDMI slot and an iOS or Android device to act as the remote. I set it up, grabbed Starz from the app store for my iPhone, and was streaming the special features to my TV last night in under twenty minutes. (You will need an existing Starz subscription, but once that’s set up, you can also watch directly on the app.)
This morning, I powered it back on and, boom – The Force Awakens itself. Next up – moving the Chromecast to a currently defunct flatscreen that’s been gathering dust in a cable-less part of the house…